It is fair to say that the success of the Lexus NX has caught the brand off guard, and now a smaller luxury Japanese SUV could be on it’s way, too.
The Lexus NX has been hot property globally, and in the Australian market. The Japanese model has managed to keep pace with the likes of the pace-setting Audi Q3 and popular Mercedes-Benz GLA locally, and those sales could even be higher according to the company’s local chief, Sean Hanley.
Hanley suggested to CarAdvice at the 2015 Tokyo motor show that supply is holding the NX back in the Australian market, and that sentiment was echoed by Lexus executive vice president Mark Templin, who said the company can’t keep up with demand.
“NX has been a huge hit for us, we haven’t been able to build enough of them. We’ve expanded production three times. It’s been a huge success for us and we’re really happy about that,” Templin said at the Tokyo show.
He said the new RX is set to continue that momentum, while other Lexus SUV models such as the flagship LX and the GX (sold in North America, based on the Toyota LandCruiser Prado) have also seen their fortunes improve with the increasing taste for SUVs among buyers.
“The good thing is we have a really great reputation for SUVs – the RX really kind of solidified us as the leader in crossovers, the NX has made it, but even LX, GX, RX and NX are all up year over year in volume, and they’re doing great,” Templin said.
But what about a smaller SUV? The NX doesn’t quite slot in the same size category as the GLA or Q3. In fact, it measures 4630mm long, where the GLA is 4417mm long and the Q3 is just 4388mm long.
So, it’s fair to suggest there’s space below the NX for an entry-level compact model. And Templin didn’t deny such a chance.
“Our position in the SUV market is really good, and there’s always potential for others in the future,” he said. “But it’s not the first priority for me right now.”
It is the priority of competitors such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, though.
The German triumvirate have all made it clear that smaller SUVs are possible, and Audi has confirmed the Q1 will arrive in 2016, BMW is believed to be readying a sub-X1 SUV for a 2017 release, while a new mini Mercedes-Benz SUV – potentially known as X-Class – could arrive at some point before 2020, too.
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